Dear Charlotte: March 27, 2013
The snow is doing it’s usual spring retreat. This morning Willow went out and reclaimed the yardstick. (It had gotten stuck for a time with the thawing and refreezing.) We are now down to about 4 inches of leftover snow, and who knows how long that will last. One good rain good do for it.
I am all excited about my garden this year, I really want to have one, even if it’s small. Even just salads would be good, but since the President signed the bill into which they’d stuck the bit protecting GMO foods and Monsanto, I think that the most revolutionary thing we can do these days is plant a garden. Screw revolution, the best thing we can do for our health.
I am thinking about health today anyway, since I have a cough. It’s a bit peculiar because it started with the heavy chest; usually you get a runny nose which leads to a sore throat, which goes to your chest, but I’m doing it backwards. Perhaps, it’s because I had opened my bedroom windows for a few nights. (I closed them again when the cough started.) But I really think it’s the result of insufficient sleep. More on that later.
Both Kat and I have been trying to run back our sleeping/waking cycles to take advantage of the morning light. This morning I actually came down (even though my plan, as any time that I’m sick, was to sleep as long as possible), because she was singing along to a “angry girl” song, and I thought I was hearing the kids fighting. Once I found out it was just music, I took advantage of being up and softened my lungs in a hot shower for a bit. I’m also a bit dubious about “cause and effect” with this one. Yesterday I spent doing hand-stitching on a new quilted skirt, because that allows me to be productive while I don’t feel up to bustling about. On the other hand, I haven’t bustled all week, really. I’ve been sitting and stitching even when I could have been more active, so maybe my subconscious figured that as long as I was going to act sick, it would make it so.
Zoloft had taken to sleeping on my needlework projects, and I wanted to just get it done. Besides, Willow made me the apron for Christmas, and I wanted to start wearing it. I had another version I made years ago, but it’s not big enough to function as an apron, so I wanted a full sized one. Willow made it, and this week I finished it- then started the new skirt. (Last week I was running for the phone and my lovely flannel quilted skirt caught on the register in the hall and tore a hunk out of it. Usually I’m going slowly enough that I get pulled up short when it catches, but this time it left a hunk of the batting on the corner of the register. Darn! I love that skirt. Willow was buying some fabric for her next run of blankets and picked me up another length of double-sided quilted, and I didn’t have a navy skirt yet, so it will be good. (I am repairing the red and black one, but it will never be as nice again.)
My theory is that handwork is what I get to do when I’m relaxing in the evening, watching a movie or lecture. But sometimes you just want to finish a project. Since I did actually time one (five foot) line of backstitching at fairly close to an hour, you can imaging how long the whole apron took, but I am very happy with it. It covers, and it’s fun. I think I’m going to add a pocket, and a ring on which to hang towels to wipe my hands on. That should help keep it cleaner.
I forgot to share with you one of the bright spots this past month. We’d gotten balloons for my birthday and John’s, and not only are they still up, but Peripegelium has become very fond of playing with them. She climbs the cat tower to grab the ribbon, then jumps down and pulls them with her all over the house- including under tables and chairs. The main game is to let it go and then catch the ribbon before it gets too high, which doesn’t always work, of course, but is fun to watch, so we occasionally bring it down into range for her.
On a much more somber note, this week I learned that two of my friends lost parents. Jean’s father, Chuck, died Wednesday, and Jane’s mother, who was 94, died Saturday. Both seem to have had pretty good deaths, in the fullness of years, surrounded by family. God bless the development of hospice. I must admit that expecting things to go in threes, I wonder if there’s another death I just haven’t heard about.
Most of my news still comes from shared articles on Facebook. There’s something wrong about sorting out people and only talking to the ones who agree with you. For example, today the Supreme Court is looking at the Defense of Marriage Act. I don’t know anyone who supports it, and yet my page is full of memes (I think they’re called) supporting it. Guys, does the phrase “preaching to the choir” mean anything to you? I know that statistics indicate that pagans/neo-pagans only represent about a percent (and I’m thinking it’s closer to 2%) of the population, but about half my friends are pagan. That says a lot more about who I hang around with than it does about the general population. How can we expect to broaden our awareness of issues if we only look at the ones we already know about? I pointed out that while I totally support the right to marry whoever you want, I’m not sure what the demonstration outside the Supreme Court is supposed to accomplish. I’d be horrified if I thought that popularity of one side of an issue would influence the Justices.
On the other hand, it’s the links shared by Canadian friends watching the Idle No More movement that has led me to my latest reading/listening. I was thrilled to watch and follow the young people who made the thousand mile walk from Whapmagoostui to Ottawa. It’s because of that that I took out the History of Native Americans course. I have to agree with the commenter on Goodreads who said that the “delivery was somewhat excruciating to endure”, but the content is good, I was also constantly frustrated at how little is covered. I guess the subject is just way to big to cover in fourteen half hour lectures. I have sent for Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee and a few other books that should fill in some holes. Still, I’m still trying to figure out how Blackhawk is using some of the terms. I get “assimilation”, but I’m not sure what “termination” means in this context. Terminating the treaties? Still, it’s been a lot of new information that has given me new perspectives on not only First Nation, but other history. The intermarriage of the French men with native women probably has some great parallels with the Saxons and Celtic population. It’s a fascinating subject, even if the Modern Scholar course is only a brief overview. I suppose it’s about the same as what I got out of the History of China from Yao to Mao. Just what “everyone should know”.
I try to keep things positive and pass on things that will improve moods, not make people feel scared, helpless, or angry. Ruahd posts beautiful photo’s he’s taken. Cathy and I post things for which we are grateful, people share upcoming events. I really enjoy posts from my younger friends on their growing kids. I have been posting lists of holidays- people can celebrate anything from Christ’s triumph over death, to pelting and squirting each other with colored powders and water. And of course, I continue to enjoy the “grandiloquent word of the day”. A bit ago they covered “floccinaucinihilipilication” the action or habit of estimating something as worthless. Aside from being a word that most people wouldn’t even bother sounding out, much less learning to say (although it’s fun), I like the meaning, and the story behind it. “A jocular coinage, apparently by pupils at Eton, combining a number of roughly synonymous Latin stems. The word was inspired by a line in the Eton Latin Grammar that listed verbs that govern a genitive noun: “Flocci, nauci, nihili, pili, assis, hujus, teruncii, his verbis, aestimo, pendo, facio, peculiariter adduntur.” Latin flocci, from floccus, a wisp or piece of wool + nauci, from naucum, a trifle + nihili, from the Latin pronoun, nihil (“nothing”) + pili, from pilus, a hair, something insignificant (all therefore having the sense of “pettiness” or “nothing”) + -fication. Often cited as the longest non-technical word in the English language, being one letter longer than the commonly-cited antidisestablishmentarianism“; and opposed to being pedantic, this one is fun. (It’s so much easier to wrap your mind around once you’ve taken it apart. Also if you have had to deal with German.)
I continue in my first level of Spanish. Since this batch was designed to be used in the computer as opposed to discs I can listen to in the bedroom, or car (or shoveling), I keep forgetting to do them, so it’s going slowly. But this past week Cathy Kane started doing it too. She’s a Physical (or Occupational) Therapist (I always get those two mixed up), and has been getting Spanish speaking clients, so she too is turning to Pimsleur to help talk to them. People are generally very excited even when you aren’t fluent that you’re trying, and please and thank you, are always a good beginning. (She’s also memorized “Do this” so they can copy her, which probably goes a long way.) So we’ll be practicing our expanding Spanish lexicons on each other.
At the same time, I’m trying to spend less time on the internet. I can “one more thing” the whole day away.
Megan and Dennis took John out to see OZ, I’m really looking forward to seeing it myself.
Last week we picked up the van. I have to say, I really did love having the bedroom window open. Not only does the air smell good, but I can hear the wind-chimes better. Willow picked us up hyacinth (and lily for her room), and I think that’s probably why people started forcing bulbs- to counteract the stale air indoors after a long winter. Still, as much as I love the scent, hyacinth is so strong that the whole room is permeated with it. I look forward to opening the window again.
Having bought a bunch of new polar fleece, we cleared off the dining room table and put the risers under the legs again. (Some day we may get one of those “counter height” tables, but meanwhile, the props work great!) That done, Willow was about to cut out a half dozen or more blankets. She’d inventoried them at the mini-con (last week?) and made a list of the ones she wants ready for AnimeBoston. “Only” about 30. Luckily, when she’s in the zone she can produce one a day.
This week from Netflix I got a collection of old shows, “Suspense” from 1949, which were dated, but pretty cool. From the library I am finishing the first set of “Great Books that have made history and can Change Your Life”. They have included The Iliad, the Bible, the Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Gilgamesh. Since his criteria for a “great book” includes elevated language, universal appeal and inspirational material, it’s not surprising that he’s starting out with religious books, but it will go on to cover Plato, Dante, Goethe, Thoreau, and Ghandi. I have to say, I am afraid I’ll be inspired to go read them, something for which I’m pretty sure I don’t have time. Unfortunately, while I love that I can access the library catalogue from home and have the books waiting for me, and that I can “stage” my requests, so that I can request something one week, and something else the next, in practice, since so many of these books are coming from other libraries, sometimes they’ll be “pending” for several weeks, then “all” arrive together. For example, this week a wonderful book on Roman Art came in, that I’d requested back in January. This explains how I ended up with four audio courses at home at once (great books, native Americans, also Anthropology of Religion and Great Scientific ideas that changed the world– I’m going to have to really push to get through those before I have to take them back, and reschedule the others on my library queue in order to catch up. The problem is, of course, that I want to know it all, I want to understand, I am quite greedy.
I also watched a bit of Troy after hearing the lecture on the Iliad– boy they played with the story on THAT didn’t the? A couple of kids movies came in: Hotel Transylvania, and Frankenweinie. I am fond of kids movies because they are simple and direct. The love that motivates characters is as often between family members as it is romantic. I liked them.
I’m also reading The World until Yesterday: What can we learn from Traditional Societies? It’s one of my favorite types of book: anthropology, and covers dozens of cultures. In fact, the author, Jared Diamond mentions that most of the modern science of psychology is based on studying a rather small segment of the human population, what he calls WEIRD: Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic, more specifically, it can be argued that a greater part of it is done by studying an even smaller subset- the undergrads in psych programs who are willing to fill out questionnaires, I think even non-scholars will recognize as not typical of all human beings. This is one I’m seriously considering buying so I can re-read it. But I’ve spent far more time reading Stephen King’s Under the Dome. It is, I believe, the culprit when it comes to my “chest cold”. It’s so hard to put down (except of course, that it’s HUGE, like The Stand or It), that I just kept reading most of the night a couple nights ago, and that’s when I woke up with the cough, so I’m blaming it on King. Of course, being “under the weather” gives me a great excuse to not cook, clean, or anything else, but keep reading. I have to say that this is the best of his I’ve read lately. As with so many of his books, the weird element takes a back seat to the interaction between the people. Yes, it’s mysterious that a small town is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by a giant force field, but that’s totally secondary to how the people in the town react to the situation. No spoilers, but I’ll happily recommend it,… on the other hand, you may want to wait until you go on vacation or at least have a long weekend with nothing else scheduled.
I should probably apologize for not having many adventures to share this week, as most of mine have been in my own mind. I got a lovely ham for Sunday, and started yeast for hot cross buns, but got distracted, and never made the buns, and we had the ham last night. I could blame it on Wally Holt dropping by- he’s going to look at the places where the roof leaks and try to figure out why, and see what else the house needs. It was good chatting with him. Another day I made spaghetti and meatballs with bread sticks. It’s hard to make a tiny batch when I’m used to three-loaf batches. I did make a lovely chicken pot pie with suet crust the other day. (apparently it’s getting late in the afternoon and my mind is turning to food…)
So until next week, be well.